Both ESPN and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are now reporting that the Indians have reached an agreement to trade C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers. The Indians will receive OF/1B Matt LaPorta, the seventh overall pick in the draft just one year ago, along with two other players, both presumably lower-level prospects.
The Brewers, loaded with talent at the Double-A and Advanced-A levels and eager to make a big move for the 2008 postseason, always appeared to be the most logical and likely trade partner for the Indians, and they reportedly pushed the Indians to complete a deal tonight so that Sabathia can make a Tuesday night start in Milwaukee. Starting on Tuesday, rather than Thursday, means that the Brewers will get two starts out of Sabathia prior to the All-Star break, in addition to 15 starts in the second half.
LaPorta was a consensus Top 25 prospect in the offseason, rated as Milwaukee's best prospect by Baseball America and a five-star prospect by Baseball Prospectus. Three months into the 2008 season, he has done nothing to dispel those high ratings, putting up a .288/.408/.576 line and leading all of Double-A with 20 home runs. The other two players the Indians are getting are not yet known, but the package is believed not to include 3B Mat Gamel or SS Alicedes Escobar. Advanced-A 3B Taylor Green and Double-A CF Michael Brantley have been mentioned in some reports.
LaPorta immediately becomes the best prospect in the Indians organization, or at worst a very close second to Triple-A LHP David Huff, another first-rounder having an outstanding season.
Sabathia was drafted by the Indians out of high school in 1998, weeks before his 18th birthday, and he was summoned to the majors to start the 2000 season at age 19 with barely more than a year of professional experience under his already sizable belt. Sabathia spent 8.5 seasons with the Indians, and more than any other one player, he led last year's squad to the best record in baseball, winning the Cy Young for his efforts.
For Indians fans under 40, Sabathia is simply the best Indians pitcher of our lifetime.